03/18/2018 11:43 PM
The 2018 NPSL season got off to a cold, wet, and chilly start as the downpour of rain fell from the sky during the pregame. Once the rain let up the sky opened up for a beautiful night for soccer at Cal State University, East Bay in Hayward, CA.
The East Bay FC Stompers would host one of their newest Golden Gate Conference opponents, El Farolito of San Francisco. Farolito a team rich in history and bay area soccer tradition is a giant of CSAN league SFSFL, having raised the trophy numerous times in their club’s history. They have also lifted one of the United States’ most prized trophies as champions of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in 1993.
The Stompers are a club deeply rooted in the East Bay for decades but first entered the NPSL in San Francisco and called the city by the bay home from 2012-2015. Both clubs are well aware of each other but have never faced off in an official match until now. The contest was no let down for the spectators who chose to tough it out on a cold night in anticipation of a classic bay area rivalry showdown.
The game featured eight yellow cards and two send offs, one for each side, as to be expected in a heated rivalry contest. A majority of the fouls were the result of physical hard play. Despite the physicality of the match it was a relatively cleanly played game. In the early going Stompers defender Prince Bere was issued a yellow card in 20’ for a challenge for a ball going over the end-line.
As the game progressed both sides took turns controlling the ball and creating chances. Neither goalkeeper was challenged by anything too dangerous, until Stompers struck first in the in the 28’. The Stompers were awarded a promising free kick right outside of the box. Midfielder, Ali Radmand stepped up to the kick and hit a shot that deflected off of the side of the wall to Stompers striker Gustavo Tavera-Rico “GTR” who place the shot passed the diving Farolito goalkeeper.
The whistle blew for halftime and the Stompers held a slim 1-0 advantage over El Farolito.
A few changes were made at the half for El Farolito and the Stompers remained with their initial 11 starters. The changes that El Farolito made gave them a better grip on the possession in the second half. Where the Stompers seemed poised to protect their lead and selectively counter attack. El Farolito continued moving the ball in to the Stompers half but could not break through the Stompers stout backline and trouble EBFC goalkeeper Luis “Manotas” Castro.
A few more yellow cards were issued to both sides. In the 75', El Farolito player Manuel Garcia was issue a straight red card for a cleats up challenge, just 10 minutes after being subbed in to the match. Despite being down a man El Farolito continued to push to search for the equalizer. Again the Stompers seemed poised to try to contain and attack with quick strikes to Khalid Arramdani and Rajaee Delane who both entered the game as second half substitutes. Multiple breaks that seemed as if the Stompers might have the second goal coming shortly ended up being stopped by the Farolito defense and good play of Farolito goalkeeper.
Late in the match in stoppage time, El Farolito’s winger pushed to get around Stompers defender Luis “Luigi” Castillo who stretched out to get the ball and took down the player in the box. The play was whistled and a penalty shot was given. Luigi was awarded his second yellow card of the match resulting in a red card and the game now being played with 10 men per side.
Janson Salton stepped up to the penalty spot and place the shot in to the lower right corner as EBFC goalkeeper Manotas guessed right and blocked the shot. The rebound went back to the shooter, Salton who placed the ball in the back of the net and equalized with virtually no time remaining in the game.
The end result left both sides feeling like they should have walked away with more points. The spectators who had the guts to stick out the cold weather, got what they came to see, a high level local soccer match between two of the bay area’s classic teams. The game was a hard fought physical game by both sides that featured an array of cards with two ejections and a last minute equalizer. This will definitely set the tone for the next classic Stompers vs. El Farolito match on Saturday, May 12, in San Francisco at Boxer Stadium the former home stadium of the Stompers, for a 12 PM kickoff.
The Stompers will now go on the road to face FC Davis next Saturday at Aggie Football Stadium at UC Davis for a 7 PM kickoff.
El Farolito will be on the road again in Sonoma County to face the Sol at Casa Grande HS at 7 PM.
Photo credits: Nap Ba.